Exploring The Basics Of Photography Part II

Today I'm back with another blog post discussing some more essential concepts of photography, whether you're just dipping your toe in the photographical waters or you're a seasoned enthusiast there is always room for a brush up on any information. If you're interested in the previous post which broke down the ideas of ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed you can find it here. What are your most loved or reliable aspects of photography?

Lighting

One of the most important elements of photography and a fundamental definition is the capture of light, pure and simple. Light can be influenced by the weather, time of the day or year and location you wish to shoot in - all of which can add to the overall atmosphere of your image:

Different Lighting Types Include:

#01 || Natural: This light is naturally occurring thanks to our glorious sun and can be determined by a whole range of ideals but it can be the most varied. (See below section).

#02 || Flash: This can be controlled with either in-camera, hand held e.g. a 'Hammerhead' Flash or big studio light boxes. Their reach is dependent on brand and settings but it can be bounced for your desired effect.

#03 || Mixed Or Ambient: This is usually a combination of several lighting types but it is specified by the pros as light that has not been supplied by the photographer.

#04 || Incandescent: This light is identified as typical 'lightbulb' for example like those typical ones you'd find in your house, with an orange / yellow colour cast but it can be harsher as most of the light is emanating from a smaller point.

#05 || Fluorescent: This could be considered the opposing type to the above as its radiating colour can give a blue / greenish (a cool hue) but the bulbs used tent to give a more balanced tone overall. It can be fairly bright and diffuse.

Things To Consider When Playing With Natural Light

Natural light is (obviously) the most readily available and for me and many others it's my personal favourite when constructing my own imagery but it can be the most temperamental to consider or manipulate. Here are a few things to take into account when attempting to capture your desired effect:

Times Of The Day

- Morning & Evening: A high contrast with a slightly warm colouring

- Midday: The highest contrast (hello strong shadows) but with a neutral white tone

- Golden Hour, Sunrise & Sunset: It has a medium contrast with a warm almost fiery palette

- Dawn, Dusk & Twilight: Usually has a low contrast with a cooler pastel colour

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Times Of The Year

- The Colder Months:

The change in the angle of the sun can create a prolonged period of the 'Golden Hour' but the light in general will be available for a limited amount of time thanks to the lower position of the sun - this also causes long shadows.

- The Warmer Months:

The summer sun is incredibly high in the sky making for brighter, warmer tones with intense shadows but the light will stick around for longer

Images taken on the same day at the Lost Gardens Of Heligan (a must for any plant lover)

Taken at 2pm when the sun was out

Taken at 2.30pm when the sun was out however most was blocked by a leafy canopy

Taken at 4pm when the weather was overcast

Weather 

- Overcast: A lack of contrast, diffuse light & lack of shadow

- Sunny: Strong contrast, yellow cast, hard light & long shadows

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Hard & Soft Light

Hard Light is defined by creating distinct, hard-edged shadows and a sunny day usually produces this. When the sun is overhead the light is harsh and unflattering.

Soft Light is defined by creating shadows that are barely visible, a cloudy day produces this diffuse effect. When the sun is on the horizon it's golden and more flattering on facial features. 

Note:

- Distance. The closer the light source, the harder it becomes. 

- Size of light source. The larger the source, the softer it becomes.

Understanding different light types, their sources and their unique qualities can benefit not only your compositional choices but can influence which setting you choose to use on your camera. What you want to create and its purpose, context and associated feelings can be heavily manipulated by the light used. However remember images and the light within can be manipulated but you cant always ignore the signs of the weather or time of day unless you're going to do a massive job of post-processing. 

Angles

An awesome influencer in terms of design and in portraying the right atmosphere is your choice of angle you take your subject matter from, they can help you decide who has the power: you the artist, the audience or the subject / model in question (a big thing when wanting to control how you want your aesthetics to be seen and understood). It can dictate how involved or distant you want to be within the situation. Some of the most essential angles include:

Low Angle

Medium Angle

High Angle

#01 || High Angle: Usually characterised by the camera looking down on the subject, it's a position of strength, this gives the photographer and by extension the audience - the power. When capturing people the model can look small (er in the frame and my example shows tiny feet), vulnerable and powerless within the image however this angle can work really well for flat lays or strong elements of design.

#02 || Low Angle: Usually defined by the camera looking up to the the main focus from a lower level (anywhere from below the eye line). With this type of image the power lies with the subject, they're bigger in the frame, forceful, possibly fearless with their actions but sometimes intimidating depending on the context. The photographer takes the power from the audience who have the luxury of looking in.

#03 || Medium / 'Eye Level' Angle: Usually made by shooting the subject straight on, any psychology effects are neutralised especially in comparison to the above 2 angle types and there may not be any issue of 'power' however if the image is a portrait and the lens locks eyes with the model then their gaze could be direct almost confrontational at times. This angle also minimises the distortion that can come from the use of other options, the proportions are more accurate to reality.

There are many other types of shots, to name a few include Point Of View (POV) and Birds Eye Shot or View however these could be more readily applied to video work.

What are your favourite photographic factors? How do you use them?

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emma.